Staged on the third floor of Design Factory (The Farmiloe Building), the talks programme - an integral part of the festival - offers an arena to introduce and discuss new innovations, raise industry issues and network with fellow A&D professionals. With up to five talks scheduled for each day, this focused series is set to deliver world-class content right at the heart of the festival.

This year’s Conversations at Clerkenwell will address some of the key issues for London’s architecture and design industry. The programme will include talks and insights from leading architects and designers – from Ron Arad and Arik Levy, to The Campana Brothers (left), Sir Peter Cook (above, pictured with Gavin Robotham), Sir Kenneth Grange, Ben van Berkel of UNStudio, Jason Bruges and Russ Hamilton of Farrells.

In partnership with the Design Museum, Clerkenwell Design Week has also invited influential figures including Patricia Urquiola (right) and Rolf Fehlbaum of Vitra to host a special DM25 talk – as part of the museum’s 25th anniversary celebration - during the festival. Chaired by the museum’s Director Deyan Sudjic, the seminar will explore the nature of the relationship between design and the world beyond the studio.

The full programme of Conversations at Clerkenwell is as follows (all open to the public; free entry except the DM25 talk on 21 May, 7pm-8pm; bookings required):


11am-12pm  Architects can’t be choosers: On clients, compliance & cost
A talk with Ron Arad and Asa Bruno (right) about the studio's singular approach to architecture and the art of building. Chaired by Icon’s editor Christopher Turner.

1pm-2pm  From Ama to Zaha: Archiboo's A to Z of how to start a practice
Most architects find it incredibly difficult to run successful practices. But why is this so hard? Amanda Baillieu (left, ©Astrid Kogler), founder of will offer some tips for anyone planning to set up on their own, or has recently done so and is wondering how to do it better.

3pm-4pm  Gentrification: A force for good?
A panel of opinion formers and stakeholders in the built environment - including gallerist and club owner Alex Proud (right); Matthew McMillan, head of inward investment at Croydon Council; and Thomas Ermacora, founder of cultural innovation hub and artistic laboratory Lime Wharf – will discuss the impact of gentrification. This debate will be chaired by design journalist Helen Parton.

5pm-6pm  The Campana Brothers: 'How art influences design'
The Campana Brothers will launch their newest collection with Edra at Detail. To celebrate the launch and artworks that have inspired the design pieces within this range, the designers will speak to Icon’s editor Christopher Turner on the subject: 'How art influences design'.

7pm-8pm  Emotional ergonomics
Artist, photographer, designer and filmmaker Arik Levy (left) – who will exhibit with Vibia at Design Factory - will look at the relationships between humans and space, humans and products, products and space, and genetic and emotional intimacy.


11am-12pm International living
Professor Ben van Berkel, co-founder of UNStudio, will discuss the design of tall residential buildings - referencing Canaletto and previous projects - with Marcus Fairs, founder of architecture and design website Dezeen and editor of the new book, Dezeen Book of Interviews.

1pm-2pm  Tall buildings: The only way is up?
An examination of the impact of tall buildings, in terms of the London skyline and also from a regional and international perspective, with a panel of leading architects - including Ian Simpson, Chris Wilkinson of Wilkinson Eyre and Andrew Beharrell (left) of Pollard Thomas Edwards - putting their experiences across in this lively debate. The panel will discuss the future of tall buildings, success stories of places where they have worked well, and alternatives to high-rise working and living, in light of New London Architecture's recent exhibition, London's Growing Up. The talk will be chaired by Will Hurst, Acting Deputy Editor of The Architects’ Journal.

3pm-4pm  Furniture informs architecture
CRAB studio’s founders and revered architects Sir Peter Cook and Gavin Robotham ask 'How does furniture inform architecture?' Furniture can provoke a reaction within humans in a far more subliminal way than architecture, and yet frequently it influences and inspires the architecture it sits within. Looking at CRAB's table designs and then tracking the forms of their most recent buildings such as the Law Faculty in Vienna, the furniture and building almost become one.

5pm-6pm  Risk, reward and the new design commissioners
Renato Preti (right), founder of Discipline will discuss the current stage of European design commissioning and originality, the route to economic recovery and how risk is an essential component to developing markets and stimulating an industry that thrives on new work. Chaired by Nico MacDonald.

7pm-8pm  What next for product design?
In their own, unique ways, designer and architect Patricia Urquiola and Rolf Fehlbaum of Vitra (left, ©Lars Petter Pettersen), manufacturer, patron and collector, have changed the landscape of design. The Design Museum’s Director, Deyan Sudjic will chair a conversation with Urquiola and Fehlbaum, exploring the nature of the relationship between design and the world beyond the studio. Born in Spain and based in Milan, Urquiola has established herself as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary design; while Fehlbaum gave Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Tadao Ando their first commissions in Europe, and has worked with many of the leading designers of his time - from Charles Eames and Verner Panton, to Jasper Morrison and the Bouroullec brothers. To buy tickets for this exclusive event, please visit


11am-12pm  AHEC and OKAY Studio discuss FIVE
The collaboration between AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) and OKAY Studio, namely FIVE, showcases the diverse ideas five teams can conjure up when presented with a renewable material such as hardwood. The project team will discuss how they approached designing with American hardwood, the sustainability of the material and the challenges overcome throughout the venture.

1pm-2pm  Confessions of a Design Geek in conversation with Sir Kenneth Grange
Clerkenwell Design Week's official blog partner, Confessions of a Design Geek's Katie Treggiden will have an insightful chat with design innovator Sir Kenneth Grange. Grange's career has spanned more than half a century and influenced generations of product designers across the world. Katie will delve into Grange's career to date, Pentagram, the iconic British designs he’s created, his user-centred approach to design, his inspirations, what he's most proud of, his role at RCA, his advice for young designers, and of course his work for Anglepoise.

3pm-4pm  The Farrell Review and the future of PLACE
Following the launch of the Farrell Review, an independent review of architecture and the built environment commissioned by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, Russ Hamilton, Design Partner at Farrells, will discuss the key recommendations and how these can be taken forward to be a catalyst for change and the start of a big conversation about our built environment.

5pm-6pm  Hospitality, hotels and happiness
Supported by W Hotels, award-winning design writer and journalist Suzanne Trocmé, will lead a discussion with Jason Bruges (right) and noted Dutch architects Concrete to discuss their work; both practices have worked with W Hotels. The discussion will explore the booming area of interior and architectural design, and the role it plays in defining other practices, particularly domestic and workplace design. How can we master the challenge of developing effective and high-quality multifunctional spaces, whilst delivering
an easy to enjoy user experience?

Please visit to book your place at any of the seminars. Seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Key info
When 20 – 22 May 2014
Where  All around Clerkenwell, London UK
Tubes  Barbican, Farringdon
Twitter  @CDWfestival #CDW2014
Facebook Clerkenwell.Design.Week